Mícheál de Barra has been involved with education in some shape or form for most of his working life. He spent many (largely) happy years teaching in a large boys' secondary school. English and Religious Education were his main interests. One of the highlights of his time as an English teacher was a recent trip to London to see a superb production of Hamlet and a seriously exuberant performance of Billy Elliot the Musical. The students were spellbound at these performances but sometimes he wonders whether English literature, Shakespeare and poetry have any lasting impact of the lives of many students?
He was seconded for three years to the local diocese as an Advisor/Resource Person for Religious Education and arising from that position he was recruited by Veritas Publications to work on the Faith Seeking Understanding textbooks for the new Leaving Cert Religious Education exam which first happened in 2005. Recently he co-authored the first book in the new Credo series of catechetical textbooks for use in US High Schools.
How has the introduction of Religious Education as an exam at Junior and Leaving Cert altered the landscape of religious education in this country?
As part of the work with Veritas, Mícheál is frequently invited to deliver in-service and workshops to groups of teachers and educators both in Ireland and the US. This can be interesting and challenging work as teaching religious education is not an easy task today. The struggle is to engage the student and at the same time continue to be true to the message. There is still a lot of enthusiasm for this subject, especially in the US. PowerPoint presentations and copies of in-service materials will shortly be available on the resource section of this website and we will be inviting you to contribute your resources as well.
'Nemo dat quod non habet' ('no one can give what he doesn't have'): To adapt this legal principle for a moment, does it have implications for the teaching of religious education?
At the moment Mícheál has a number of projects on the go, not least the Pilgrhttp://www.carpediem.ie/images/Tours that you can access on the Events page. What constitutes the search for meaning for people, especially young people, is a constant question especially in these depressed, stark times. Generation X has come and gone and Generation Y, Y2K are making their mark. What will that 'mark' be as the 21st century progresses.